EPA Forced to Backtrack on Fracking Contamination Claims

The WSJ notes that the EPA has had to backtrack and reevaluate allegations that hydraulic fracturing has been responsible for environmental contamination.

On Friday, the agency told a federal judge it withdrew an administrative order that alleged Range Resources Corp. had polluted water wells in a rural Texas county west of Fort Worth. Under an agreement filed in U.S. court in Dallas, the EPA will also drop the lawsuit it filed in January 2011 against Range, and Range will end its appeal of the administrative order.

In addition to dropping the case in Texas, the EPA has agreed to substantial retesting of water in Wyoming after its methods were questioned. And in Pennsylvania, it has angered state officials by conducting its own analysis of well water—only to confirm the state’s finding that water once tainted by gas was safe.

Taken together, some experts say, these misfires could hurt the agency’s credibility at a time when federal and state regulators seek ways to ensure that natural-gas drilling is done safely.

There’s no question fracking can pose some environmental risks.  Improper techniques appears to have contributed to minor earthquakes in northeast Ohio.  But some other claims of widespread harm from fracking, particularly water pollution, appear to have been overstated.